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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  March 17, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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trouble, in fact, the opposite from them about us. you couldn't ask for greater relatives than my four brothers and i have. sometimes it's good i think to remember where you came from. happy st. patrick's day to both of my parents and to all of them. that's "hardball." for now. thanks for being with us. "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell starts right now. the international atomic energy agency now says that electrical power has been returned to the reactor site, >> we are bringing all available resources to bear to closely monitor the situation and to protect american citizens. >> thousands are evacuating. fears growing in california and hawaii. and finally, the president speaks. >> i want to be very clear. we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the united states. >> you're going to heart president calm fears. >> let me repeat that.
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we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the west coast, hawaii -- >> no radiation, by the way, even on incoming cargo or passengers -- >> there really can't be any risk or harm to anyone here in the united states or hawaii or any of the other territories. >> president obama echoes the message of calm for the american people and support for japan. but did he wait too long? >> president obama's under fire for sticking to his schedule. is he showing admirable discipline, or is it looking like a failure of leadership? >> especially with the espn picks. >> contribute to help the people who have been devastated in japan. >> i was impressed with his picks and his knowledge of players, but that wasn't what the american people needed to see yesterday. >> yesterday president obama called japan's prime minister to discuss the crisis. >> we've got a president who on top of this knows he's got to turn this economy around. >> in some ways the president just can't -- you can't win sometimes. >> the japanese government's credibility continues to sink by the day.
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>> two very different pieces of advice between the u.s. government and the japanese government -- >> american leaders may be saying what japanese citizens are not hearing. >> there's a tradition in japan of sort of toning down bad news. >> who's in charge of this response effort? is it the government? is it tepco? >> the struggle to find survivors continues in the cold and in the snow. >> the death toll stands at 5,429, nearly 10,000 people still missing. >> most of the aid is coming from the south, from tokyo, and a lot of it has not made it up to these tsunami and quake victims. >> good evening. the international atomic energy agency is reporting there is now electrical power in place at reactor 2 at the fukushima nuclear plant but has not yet been turned on. the iaea also reports that pressure inside the reactors has
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begun to fall. officials are still trying to figure out whether water drops from helicopters and cannons earlier today actually worked in cooling down the reactors. video shows much of the water was blown away because the helicopters had to stay high enough to avoid dangerous levels of radiation. still, one hopeful sign was the steam seen rising from reactor 3, which is evidence that the water might have been hitting the spent fuel rods. right now 14 buses are on their way to an area just north of sendai, japan, where up to 600 americans have been stranded since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the region last friday. overnight, the state department authorized the voluntary evacuation of family members and dependents of american officials. one flight took off today, carrying just under 100 people. dallas-fort worth and chicago's o'hare airports have both
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reported radiation detected on planes arriving from japan. officials, though, say they were extremely low levels of radiation that should not cause alarm. today president obama tried to ease american concerns while reiterating the united states' commitment to provide aid to japan. he made an unscheduled trip to the japanese embassy in washington, signing a condolence book. about an hour later the president made a statement from the rose garden. >> i want to be very clear. we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the united states. but when we see a crisis like the one in japan we have a responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people. that's why i've asked the nuclear regulatory commission to do a comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants. in the coming days we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of american
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citizens and the security of our sources of energy. and we will stand with the people of japan as they contain this crisis, recovering from this hardship, and rebuild their great nation. >> joining me now from tokyo, reuters senior correspondent daniel sloan. mr. sloan, we're going to have a bit of a delay in our video link here. so talking to each other's going to have a little bit of a delay in it, like an old-fashioned overseas phone call. very 20th century here, not 21st. what is the difference today in the reporting that you're hearing from japanese media in japan versus the reporting that we ha we have here in the united states? >> well, i would certainly say that all of japanese media is as focused on the events in fukushima as any international broadcaster or media. and to some degree while not overtly critical or kind of in
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some ways very political on occasion, japanese are also -- the headlines of the papers have criticized the prime minister and others, certainly tepco and their response in dissemination of information, and that has petered out to people in general who don't really -- the prime minister went into this not very popular, and it certainly hasn't helped his ratings. >> and what is the latest that you're hearing from the plant, the various developments that we've been getting in the last couple of hours that sound like there might be some positive progress there? >> well, as you were noting, obviously, the key was trying to re-establish this power connection to the plant itself. if that is successful, it really doesn't mean that because of the critical damage that we've seen. and if you look at the video, the facilities themselves don't really seem in any great shape that could be able to succeed from this. they will try to re-establish so that the water -- the coolant efforts can begin.
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nonetheless, we're going to have more helicopter water drops today, and those fire trucks with the water cannons are going to again come to the facilities and spray. >> you have some experience in dealing with tepco, the japanese power administration that's involved in this. what is it like getting real information out of them? >> well, tepco going into this obviously is one of the key nuclear power energy sources in japan, and they have had experiences with accidents before. some of them with fatalities. so i think a number of people really wondered going into this, or as the situation began to deteriorate, whether they alone would be able to come to the plate and bring information that would, you know, get people's confidence levels higher. coupled with the government's rather slow but extending the
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danger zone from initially about a mile and a half to now 20 miles plus, the sense is really between both the government and the power company itself that they've been slow and obviously have not done anything to reassure confidence in the nation. >> has the news of the state department, the american state department's recommendations to americans made its way into the japanese media and president obama's statement today in saying the administration's position saying they wish americans would -- >> -- a sense that there seems to be differences in what is being said by outside officials, the nuclear regulatory commission, and now today we've got the head of the international atomic energy agency returning to japan. he's japanese. he's based in vienna. and that agency also has been very critical of japan. it will be very -- japan's response and dissemination. it will be interesting to see
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exactly what is said. he's giving press conferences in the next few hours. but yeah, japanese are aware that what is being on their screens and coming from government officials doesn't seem to really be in any way reflective of some of the outside kind of views on how this situation is being, excuse me, handled. >> daniel sloan, reuters senior correspondent, thank you for your report tonight. turning now to the nuclear implications of all this, joining me, david albright, president of the institute for science and national security. mr. albright, what do you make of the news that there may be power now being delivered to the plant again and that may be able to help deliver the cooling necessary? >> it's good news. i mean, it's -- the first step is power to reactor 2. and i hope the other reactors will get power. i think there's a long way to go. you know, we have to hope that the pumps will work.
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they evidently were -- some of them may have been damaged, or i heard reports they were damaged in the earthquake. and so we'll have to see how this pulls together. but it's definitely an improvement. the water spray hasn't -- it's a little iffy. i mean, the satellite photos of reactor number 3 show the steam plumes coming up, and people worry that that's the steam coming off the spent fuel pond, meaning that the water's boiling. and so it doesn't look from the satellite images -- and again, there's a -- you only get those once a day. it doesn't look like there's been much progress at cooling down those -- that particular spent fuel pond. >> the first readings of american data collection in flights over fukushima seem to indicate that the worst of the contamination has not gone beyond an 18-mile radius, but what do you think the real danger zone is there? >> well, i don't think it's really known. i mean, the radiation
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readings -- first of all, it's very good the united states is involved in starting to do these aerial overflights to try to figure out the levels of radiation. the -- over the last several days there's been releases, and then there's diminished releases, and then they spike again. and so that has -- that radiation's gone out, and most of it has fallen out. i think the doses out in the 30, 40-mile zone have been higher than what you would want to see. and so i think that we've been lucky in the sense that a lot of it is blown out to sea, but there has been some coming inland when the wind shifts. and i think the net result is that when the united states says evacuate out to 50 miles there's a real sound reason for that. that there is radiation going out. there's a lot of uncertainty about what could go out next. and hopefully, that fear and
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that concern could diminish over the next several days as hopefully the japanese could get control over this site. but still, we're not quite there yet, and i think it continues to be a great concern about what could play out and the kind of releases that could still happen. >> the president is insisting and reassuring that hawaii and california, oregon, washington have nothing to worry about. i was in california yesterday and earlier this week, and people are starting to worry in california given the doubt that exists around all the information that's been shared. what is your sense the possibilities are for hawaii or california in this situation? >> i would expect that there wouldn't be that much risk. but the trouble with radiation is that it really scares people. it causes dread. it's the burden that nuclear power and everything nuclear carries. and so you have to deal with that through information and transparency. and it's very important that the
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united states goes out and measures the radiation levels in japan and also off of japan and comes up with information so people can look at it and make their own decision because that's usually the best way to do it, is for the -- see good information, assess it, and make good decisions about the risk. >> david albright with the institute for science and international security. thanks for your insight tonight. >> thank you. coming up, more on the desperate measures under way in japan to stop a full-blown nuclear meltdown. physicist and author michio kaku analyzes the science behind all of the alarming headlines. and a chilling look at the moment the tsunami hit. you will see minute by minute the view from one town. what happened as that wall of water hit a local japanese television crew kept the cameras rolling, and their tape shows us that in the moment of crisis every decision, every single decision they made meant the difference between life and
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dr. kaku may be able to explain what's happening using science. glenn beck's explanation for what's happening relies on the bible. that's in tonight's "rewrite." yikes, this color just sucks the life out of me.
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the radiation levels in japan are reported to be hazardous only in the immediate area of the fukushima nuclear plant. but that means that the helicopters that began making massive water drops to cool the fuel rods and reactors spent just 40 minutes in the air due to the radiation risk. on the ground police and military water trucks like this one tried to spray 9,000 gallons on their targets but couldn't get closer because of the same radiation fears. the tokyo electric power company says its workers are making headway and that radiation levels have "somewhat stabilized at their lows." the iaea reports no significant worsening of conditions in the past day. joining me now, professor and physicist michio kaku. thank you very much for joining me tonight, professor. >> glad to be on. >> what do you make of the latest efforts that have been
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reported today on getting control of this, the spraying of the water, the resulting steam? is that a positive sign or could that be a sign of something else, for example? >> the spraying of water on the spent fuel pond that probably has no water left is like using a squirt gun to try to take on a forest fire. these workers are overwhelmed, and at a certain point it will be so radioactive that they may have to abandon ship. and when that happens, we're in freefall. if that happens, we may have three simultaneous meltdowns and one raging explosion in the spent fuel pond. let's hope it doesn't come to that. but right now if it gets too radioactive, it's a suicide mission to go in there. >> what is the scenario in which it doesn't come to that? because up to know we've been seeing a progressive deterioration of the conditions. there seems to be a hopeful sign in the possible restoration of electric power. is that something that's going to get us out of this? >> if they can restore electric
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power, that would be the first good news in a series of awful press releases, each one getting worse than the other. but we're not out of the woods because it's a race against time. they want to restore power before it's so radioactive that workers cannot go in. and that means that there could be a meltdown and finally a breach of containment. breach of containment would make it a class 7 accident, like chernobyl. uncontrolled releases of radiation into the air. class 7. >> and what results? if this goes class 7, what will we see in japan and in the surrounding area? >> you will see enormous quantities of fission products, cesium, strontium, iodine go into the air. at chernobyl 25% to 30% of the entire core's worth of radiation inventory was lofted into the air. we're talking about dead zones. dead zones that will be that way for decades, maybe even centuries that have to be sealed off because of the contamination. >> is there a smarter approach to what's going on there now? >> i have my own suggestion, and
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that is we look at the gorbachev option, the chernobyl option. what did gorbachev do? he called in the red air force. he called in the military. fleets of helicopters with lead underneath the airplanes, with sandbags, concrete, and boric acid. and they sandbagged that reactor. they entombed it in concrete, buried it in 5,000 tons of concrete, sand, and boric acid. that's the chernobyl option. >> and that starts with giving up on this thing ever being a nuclear facility again. have the japanese -- are the japanese somehow retaining the hope that there's something that they can repair there and have running again? >> there's nothing left. we have four gigantic pieces of junk at the site. they put sea water in. when you put sea water in, the corrosion, the chemicals, the impurities make it virtually impossible to resurrect. that was the kiss of death, when they put the sea water in. but they had nothing left to do. and remember, when they said that levels are stable at the reactor, it's stable in the sense of you're hanging by your
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fingernails. yes, you are stable hanging by your fingernails, but what a way to go. >> and quickly, the threat to california, hawaii, the president says don't worry about it. >> don't worry about it. you know, you have a piece of chernobyl in your body right now. so do i. every american has a piece of chernobyl in our bodies. but it's so microscopic it's not worth talking about. after the accident in new york city you can actually see the blip in it per liter but it was way below the danger level. >> so a piece of chernobyl, maybe a piece of japan's reactor, no big deal in. >> as far as the united states is concerned. but for japan it is a crisis of historic proportions. >> michio kaku, author of "physics of the future," just out this week. thank you very much for joining us tonight. coming up, president obama finally addresses the crisis in japan this afternoon in a speech from the rose garden after being criticized for not doing enough about the uprising in libya and the budget negotiations with congress.
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is the white house worried that the president might seem to be neglecting the nuclear power crisis in japan? howard fineman joins me next. and you will see a video not yet seen about how the tsunami hit japan, the moment of crisis as the tsunami bears down. a look at how every second counts and every decision you make could be a matter of life and death. we're america's natural gas.
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the threat of a nuclear catastrophe in japan has now overshadowed the twin disasters that started it. last week japan experienced the largest earthquake in the country's recorded history. and that then provoked a tsunami that washed away entire towns. but there are stories emerging now that will be hard to forget. this story brought our newsroom to a standstill. it was taped by a local television crew in sendai as they were attempting to escape from the tsunami in a taxi. carl dennen of our british news partner itn reports. >> reporter: these are the decisions that keep you alive. stay in the car or run for it. they run. telling the driver to do the same.
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keep running or find shelter? they find a building. the water pooling at their feet now. look at the height of that white wall. very soon the water will reach the top of it. the canopy over the gate will become a bridge. as they climb the stairs, the tsunami bursts through the corridor. they reach the window as two huge red containers sweep across
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the path. leaving the taxi was a good decision. it's now floating. but not everyone made shelter. there's a woman on the wall. a man in a tree. and standing on a car roof, a father clutching his two young children. someone finds a fire hose. it becomes a rope. as snow falls, the man from the tree makes it in. as dusk falls, a human chain is formed and reaches the children.
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despite the aftershocks, despite the snow, they pass the children from person to person across the tops of shipping containers. still ahead, american nuclear experts believe there are fuel rods completely exposed in one of the japanese reactors. japanese officials seem to disagree. who should we believe? the japanese people are asking the same question. former state department spokesman jamie rubin joins me, coming up. and non-scientist bill o'reilly says you should not believe the press when it comes to reports on the dangers from those japanese nuclear reactors. this is the same non-scientist
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in the spotlight tonight the white house's match -- march madness following yesterday's big presidential ncaa bracket rollout. >> filling out a bracket for you and for millions of other americans has always been that quick diversion for whatever was going on. >> well, you know, it's a great tradition. i have to say last year i got decimated. the year before that we did okay. so i'm hoping that although i haven't had a chance to focus on a lot of games recently, i'm hoping that i can make some progress. >> and then from the white house pool report today, march 17th,
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"musicians martin hayes and dennis cahill performed a medley of songs, mountain lark and tom doherty's reel, on fiddle and guitar. boehner was flanked by obama, and kenny green tablecloths, a few pints of guinness mixed along with the wineglasses." not everyone shares the white house's spring fever. some are even suggesting it's politically tone deaf in light of simultaneous global crises. >> the one thing this white house has not figured out is the symbolic value of being president, the theater of being president. and yes, we all know he can pick his brackets. but it's what do you do in front of the cameras? and i can tell you, when most americans are connecting on an international crisis and talking about a nuclear meltdown and possibly four or five, six reactors, i can tell you it is not assuring to americans. >> president obama did find time
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to take a break today from celebrating st. patrick's day with the prime minister of ireland to make a statement about the situation in japan. >> we've seen an earthquake and tsunami render unimaginable -- an unimaginable toll of death and destruction on one of our closest friends and allies in the world. and we've seen this powerful natural disaster cause even more catastrophe through its impact on nuclear reactors that bring peaceful energy to the people of japan. >> joining me now, howard fineman, msnbc political analyst and senior political editor of the huffington post. thanks for joining me tonight, howard. >> happy st. patrick's day, lawrence. >> thank you very much. of course for me it's a little bit of a cultural day of shame here in new york, where the irish completely destroy the city and make everything impassable and i have to spend the rest of the year apologizing. howard, the late-night comedians have caught up with the president on this one.
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let's listen. >> today president obama went on espn to announce his ncaa tournament picks. or as japan put it, really? >> so let's see what's going on in the world. libya in crisis. stock market collapsing. the disasters everywhere. and today president obama took decisive action. he named duke, kansas, ohio state, and pittsburgh as his final four. he made a decision today, ladies and gentlemen. >> howard, this sort of thing used to spell trouble for a president. if you made it into the "tonight show" monologue as a politician, it usually meant that whatever you were doing, whatever they were joking about, had now made its way into the national consciousness in an irreversible, image-making way. is that where we are with barack obama on this stuff? >> well, on the stuff about picking the brackets, i actually think ironically that's one of the things that president obama does that connects him with average folks and with real life in america at a time when
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republicans are trying to paint him as a guy from another planet. i mean, what's more american than filling out your bracket in so i think on a cultural level it's fine. same with st. patrick's day. he's an irish -- he's a -- he's a chicago politician who was -- you know, in chicago they dye the chicago river green. so he's just doing here what he did in -- what they did in chicago. but on the question of disengagement and coolness and so forth, i mean, that is obama. he's no drama obama. that was great during the presidential campaign. it looked -- it turned out to be very serviceable during the egyptian crisis to be detached the way he was. you could argue that it was even helpful in the health care negotiations. but he misses the -- joe scarborough's right on this much. he misses the sort of chances to connect emotionally with people at moments of crisis and focus in the country and the world. that's just not obama's strength. >> yeah, put me down as one who doesn't get this criticism.
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whenever the president is appearing publicly, he's not actually doing his job. the job of the presidency in governing occurs behind closed doors. the statement he was making today about japan has no effect on what's going to happen in japan. but the president is capable of joining the late-night comics in joking about this. i'm going to read you -- i'm going to read you, howard, what he said at the gridiron dinner, and i have to read it because videocameras are not allowed there. the president took this on. he said, "all right. i hear the criticisms. i do. for example, i know that people think i'm not passionate enough, that i'm too cool, that i'm too detached. but as i was going through my daily routine, sitting aloan in my study, meditating, thinking about how to win the future, i pondered this critique and calmly rejected it as thoroughly illogical. and for all those who think i golf too much, let me be clear. i'm not spending time on the golf course. i'm investing time on the golf course." howard, presidents have been
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playing golf for a long time. st. patrick's day was observed in every white house during every day of the vietnam war and every crisis that we've seen around the world. i just don't get this idea that barack obama is somehow neglecting the job by going through the same kinds of motions on these things that every other president has done. >> no, i don't either, frankly. i think he's proud of -- he's not just stuck with, he's proud of his image as a calm, cool, and collected guy. that's one of the things that got him elected president, in contrast to john mccain, who seemed at loose ends half the time. and we needed somebody who was calm and intellectual and focused to try to figure out the problems we were in. at least that's what the american voters said in 2008. so i think he's comfortable joking about it because that's who he is. and golf is golf. his big problem, though, is he's got to show and continue to show that he understands the pain of lives of average americans suffering through the recession,
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foreclosures and joblessness. that he's got to do and keep working on all the way to the next election day. >> msnbc analyst and senior political editor for the huffington post, howard fineman. thanks for joining us tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. well, bill o'reilly thinks the media is overhyping the situation in japan. his junior partner at fox news, glenn beck, thinks the crisis there could be a sign of the end of the world. seriously. beck says this might be the end of the world. beck and o'reilly, both in tonight's "rewrite." we're america's natural gas.
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for relief you can feel precisely where you need it most. precise. only from the makers of tylenol. on tuesday bill o'reilly criticized the media for overhyping the nuclear crisis in japan. that came after his junior
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partner, glenn beck, actually suggested that the crisis might be a message from god. that wasn't overhyping as far as o'reilly's concerned. o'reilly and beck in tonight's "rewrite." [ male announcer ] a chicken coop: the unlikely birthplace of a fundamental idea. it's where ethel percy andrus found a retired teacher living because she could afford nothing else.
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located in earthquake zones. bill o'reilly is worried about the hype. >> is the nuclear threat growing in japan? that is the subject of this evening's "talking points memo." "talking points" believes that the worldwide media is hyping the nuclear situation in japan a bit too much. >> hmm. i wonder why "talking points" believes that. you know, i'll bet "talking points" knows exactly how bad this is and exactly how we should be talking about it. >> the truth is no one knows how bad this is. however, that doesn't stop the hype. >> don't you love the way "talking points" says that? it's so authoritative. it's so strong. >> the truth is no one knows how bad this is. however, that doesn't stop the hype. >> "talking points" is actually right about that first sentence, and that's what makes the second sentence so, so stupid. the truth is, if no one knows
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how bad this is, it is impossible to hype as long as what we are discussing is scientifically possible. if it's possible, it could happen, because the truth is no one knows how bad this is. >> however, that doesn't stop the hype. >> but it's not the end of the world. i don't mean that as some kind of general anti-hype, it's not the end of the world. i mean that it literally is not the end of the world. and i mean that in specific response to bill o'reilly's fox news junior partner who, in hyping this, has suggested that it actually might be the end of the world. >> the book of revelation was written so you would know what it looks like. >> the book of revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious god would bring about the end of the world.
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no half-smart religious person actually believes the book of revelation. they are certain that their god would never turn into a malicious torturer and mass murderer beyond hitler's wildest dreams. glenn beck, of course, does believe the book of revelation. why is he bringing it up in his discussion of the crisis in japan? >> the book of revelation was written so you would know what it looks like, you would know, warning, in these days these things will happen. now, i don't know if it's these days. >> so glenn beck is saying he doesn't know if the nuclear crisis in japan is signaling the imminent end of the world. if bill o'reilly's going to use the word "hype" and not use the words "glenn beck," then billy boy's media analysis is unsurprisingly as empty-headed as usual. glenn beck doesn't know if this
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is the end of the world. luckily for you, i do know. i know it with absolute certainty. this absolutely is not, it is not the end of the world. any of you beck watchers who just started paying on 30-year mortgages, you really do have to plan on making those payments for 30 years. everyone should continue to still carefully build retirement plans. this is not the end of the world. no matter what o'reilly's fox news junior partner might think. >> it's not as a punishment to the japanese, not as a punishment to us. it's just a signal that these are the days. are they? i don't know. >> i do. i do know. why would anyone listen to a guy who doesn't know if this is the end of the world when there's another guy on msnbc at 8:00
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p.m. every night who can tell you with absolute certainty beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not the end of the world? what do i have to do? change the title of this thing to "the it's not the end of the world show with lawrence o'donnell"? >> but to say god may be sending us a message, not -- not that he caused that. that he knew, and in these days you would see these things. is that the message? i don't know. >> i do know. i do. i really do know. i am not kidding about this. i know it's not. it is not the end of the world. listen to me. don't listen to beck. for the sake of your children and your grandchildren, listen to me. it's not the end of the world. more of the "it's not the end of the world show with lawrence o'donnell" after this. here's a myth:
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the obama administration has authorized the voluntary evacuation of family members and dependents of u.s. government personnel located in northeastern japan on charter and possibly military flights. the first evacuation flight left japan this afternoon. the state department has also strongly urged u.s. citizens, do not travel to japan and told citizens currently in japan to consider leaving. those recommendations are based on often conflicting information on the extent of the fukushima nuclear disaster. yesterday the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission chairman told lawmakers he believes that water no longer surrounds spent fuel rods in the fourth reactor, causing the rods to leak lethal radiation into the air, information japanese officials had not yet reported. a spokesman for japan's nuclear
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industrial safety agency addressed the discrepancy today saying, "because we have been unable to go to the scene, we cannot confirm whether there is water left or not in the spent fuel pool at reactor number 4." adding to the confusion is disagreement over the size of the evacuation zone. the u.s. recommends 50 miles for its citizens. japan says only 13 miles are necessary. today was -- reporters gathered at the white house briefing wanted to know if such inconsistencies have president obama questioning the japanese government's ability to handle this crisis. i guess we just lost that white house tape and didn't get the sound on it. joining me now, assistant secretary of state during the clinton administration, bloomberg view executive editor jamie rubin. thanks for joining me tonight, jamie. >> good to be with you. >> jamie, "the new york times" today made the point that japan
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is a confrontation-averse society, in a certain kind of way limited information, for example, with cancer patients, they don't like to tell them anything close to how bad it is. they want to kind of keep them looking in the other direction, as it were. is that your experience in dealing with the japanese government in general on a range of issues? >> yes. there is a politesse that you could argue makes them avoid conflict. certain, when u.s.-japanese officials have a major problem diplomatically it often takes a long time to get the japanese to admit to you the extent of the problem, and often for americans who tend to be more blunt and don't have a culture that involves different levels of, you know, age and seniority that creates different forms of address and all of the ways in which japan is a formalized
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culture creates a culture clash from time to time, and it strikes me that certainly part of this is a culture clash. on the other hand, i think the american psyche in these situations on nuclear power is different than the japanese psyche. let's face it, they're a small country. they rely on enormous numbers of nuclear reactors. we're a very big country, and we're very nervous about nuclear reactors. so i think the whole standards on nuclear power are different. >> let's turn to libya. the united nations has passed a resolution 10-0 authorizing a no-fly zone over libya and all necessary measures to protect the libyan people. russia and china abstained from the vote. where does this bring us in terms of how the president now has to address the situation? >> well, i think this could be a very dramatic development. in the last 24 hours there appears to have been a pretty major reversal. just a few days ago the major
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countries couldn't agree on anything. now there is a resolution. nato has said if there's a u.n. resolution and if the regional organization, the arab league and others, endorse this that they could be ready to act. if this resolution is exploited, it authorizes the united states through nato now to conduct air strikes as early as tomorrow against advancing gadhafi forces who are about to go into benghazi, promised by gadhafi today, and start wreaking revenge and slaughter on the people who rebelled against him. that's authorized now. that's allowed. that's legal. now, whether the u.s. is fully ready to conduct an air campaign or organize a no-fly zone is a little unclear because just a day or two ago u.s. officials were seemingly not interested in intervening. national security council
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officials saying this wasn't really our vital national interest. so i confess to being a little puzzled. it could be a dramatic development that will open the way for president obama to do something he really would get great credit for doing, which is to save potentially hundreds of thousands of libyans living in benghazi and turn around this disaster there. >> quickly, hillary clinton made some news today saying very definitively -- she's indicated this before but very definitively, she didn't want to be secretary of state in the second term. this is standard. henry kissinger was a one-termer, madeleine albright, colin powell, condi rice. is there anything else to look at here other than kind of a standard run for a secretary of state? >> no. except to say that hillary clinton has been running full steam for a long, long time. eight years first lady, running for the senate, running for president, now being secretary of state. she's a tired woman. >> yeah. and these are both -- these are all truly


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